Helmet Maker Riddell Loses High School Football Concussion Case

An important personal injury case recently concluded in Colorado and resulted in a massive $11.5 million judgment against helmet maker Riddell along with several local high school administrators and football coaches. The case concerned the 2008 concussion of a teenage player who later suffered severe brain injuries.

The jury found that Riddell was negligent for failing to warn players and customers wearing its helmets about the dangers posed by concussion. The jury apportioned 27 percent of the fault for the teenager’s injuries to Riddell, making the company responsible for $3.1 million of the total damages. Despite this, the boy’s attorney said the family would be petitioning the judge to make Riddell responsible for the entire judgment.

The case began when Rhett Ridolfi suffered a serious blow to the head and ended up developing a concussion during his high school football practice. Ridolfi was not immediately taken to the hospital and is now suffering from severe brain damage as well as left-side paralysis.

The Ridolfi family attorney, Frank Azar, said the issue that the jury latched onto was not one of the helmet’s design, but instead, claims by Riddell that it can protect wearers against head trauma. Azar referred to Riddell’s defense as “phony-baloney” and said that the issue boiled down to the company failing to warn users about the real risks of sustaining serious brain injuries. Azar said that if Riddell had directly issued a warning that children wearing the helmet had a 50 percent chance of getting a concussion, then parents would make a very different decision before allowing them to suit up.

The recent case is especially significant for the helmet company given a similar lawsuit it is facing out of California and the much larger class action suit targeting the company by former NFL players. The injured boy’s attorney said he thinks the jury in the recent Colorado case made it clear that Riddell is in serious trouble when it comes to the pending NFL suit. Riddell and NFL players will likely be anxiously watching developments in the California case to see if a pattern of liability develops.

Pope McGlamry P.C., currently represents former professional football players and their families for injuries and damages sustained as a result of suffering concussions while playing football, and is actively involved in the current concussion litigation. If you or someone you love has been injured by a sports-related concussion, you may be entitled to compensation.

Source: “Colorado jury awards $11.5M to family in helmet lawsuit,” by The Associated Press, published at USAToday.com.

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